Dispatches From Italy -  Return to Seattle

Thursday, 13 July 2006.  Over the Artic

Leave No Trace?  Snort.  Don’t start me.  Humanity, most particularly the Industrial part of society, has left its trace - disintegrating and disappearing ice caps, the scattering remnants of shattering ecosystems.  While environmental change is constant, cycling though seasons and even millennia, it seems that our actions are pushing the Earth outside its averages.  We are at a phenomenal time.  Science that can examine DNA, probing history, disease and life, opening wide encouraging and scary possibilities.  Spacecraft that can scour neighbouring planets as well as Earth for invaluable data.  We are at a time when we can finally detect the changes we are causing.

But we are also at a time to discuss them.  Computers and networks can process information so quickly that designing complex models, writing articles, spreading data and conclusions, connecting people, have all become the work of hours instead of weeks, months, years.  Our science, technology and connectivity can help us slow those changes, and maybe enough that we won’t have to try to build (rebuild?) a sustainable future in an unstable ecosystem.

Knowing I will leave some sort of trace, what sort of legacy do I want to leave behind?  Everything I do impacts the world in some way.  What shape do I want that impact to take?  My body will eventually be scattered to the wind, waves and earth.  My daily impact will be gone.  How do I want to live my life such that my Trace is beneficial to the earth rather than consuming?  Can I make a strong, lively, compassionate and ecologically sound thread in the weave of time?


The patchwork quilt of England

Flying back to Seattle above the textured clouds

A spotted Sea - very rare animal only seen from 35,000 feet.



Travel has a way of speeding up life, yet at the same time slowing it down.  The speed of constant movement, even if not your own.  Planes chase time around the globe, abruptly depositing one culture into another.  Trains churn past fields and houses too fast to count.  Subway cars with people playing sardines screech down tunnels of light and noise.  People endlessly moving.  Yet at the same time, with all that movement, all that chaos, your worldly concerns are reduced to food, water, time and location.  (Plus whatever mental baggage you bring – travel light!)  It doesn’t matter whether the insurance on the house needs updating, how long the commute home will take today, if Billy will stop playing video games long enough to take the dog for a walk, whether your car is snazzier or bigger than the new SUV next door.  Instead, you get to be… here.  I love travelling where I just disappear into the here.  I’m not anywhere else or thinking about what else I should be doing somewhere else.  I’m thousands of miles from ‘home’ attempting to speak a foreign tongue and I can’t do diddly squat about purchase orders, project timelines or decide how thick that plastic part should be.  My friend Beth made an offhanded remark (though I’m not sure anything she   says is truly offhanded) that the only thing humans truly possess is their intent.  I had to, and still have to, pause on that.  We certainly don’t possess our houses, cars, money, partner or kids.  No more than we possess the clothes on our back or even the hair on our head.  I can conceptualize that I should live with intent, though living true to that has its challenges.  I often try to ‘do’ with intent, to ‘be’ with intent, but I don’t always allow myself – I can be too focused on too many things or too focused on what is next.  It’s easier to travel with intent and Beth’s statement makes that more precious.  Transmit yourself to a new place and mean to be there.  You suddenly get days that last longer, no matter how long you sit in the piazza watching musicians play the crowd, no matter how long you stand in wonderment inside San Pietro’s Basilica, no matter how sweaty and long that hike was.  After leaving the idyllic summer days of youth behind, I’ve always felt life will be too short to do all the things I want to.  I think if I can truly live with the intent to be here, where ever I happen to be, life will seem longer, more fulfilled, and I won’t panic as much, even though life will probably still be too short.

Think fast - live slow?

To RomeRome Day IRome Day IISienaRadda/StazzemaAzzano/LericiCinque Terre/World CupRome/England • Seattle

Peter Newbury's Published Adventures